Danceletter 7

Pole Dancing +

It has been (and continues to be) one of those nonstop busy times, so this is going to be a quick one. But I wanted to write and share with you a story I had a lot of fun working on — about the U.S. Pole Dance Championship. Yes, there are championships for pole dancing, which is even on its way to possibly becoming an Olympic sport. While some organizations promote a sportier style, the U.S. Pole Dance Federation, which runs the competition I attended, allows women (and men) “the freedom to express themselves in a sensual, sexy manner if they want,” as founder Wendy Traskos told me.

Shoutout to Nina Westervelt for the gorgeous photos and for keeping me company through many hours of pole dance routines. (A detail I didn’t get to include: between each competitor, assistants come out to clean the poles from top to bottom, which is incredible — they made it look easy — but makes for a long show.) Also, everyone I spoke with said I must try a pole class, so you might be hearing more from me on this subject.

I also enjoyed working on this piece about the Stephen Petronio Company’s revival of “Coverage,” a 1970 solo by Rudy Perez. Rudy, who lives in Los Angeles and still teaches a weekly class at 89, was one of the very few artists of color involved in Judson Dance Theater. We talked about that and much more. (Unfortunately I had to miss the show itself because I was at… the U.S. Pole Dance Championship.)

Last night I saw Mariana Valencia’s Bouquet at the Chocolate Factory and you should too (it runs through April 27). I’ve written here and there about Mariana’s work but was happy to be able to reflect on it at greater length. I also recommend the accompanying book, a lovely record of the dance and an artwork in itself.

Reader participation!

I never know how to end these letters, so I decided it might be fun to sign off each time with a dance video — from you, dear readers. So, if you wish, send me your favorite dance video. It can be something everyone’s seen or something obscure, as long it’s something you’re mildly to extremely obsessed with. You can send the link just by replying to this email, and feel free to include a few words about why you love it (but you can skip that part if you want, no stress).

I’ll start with a classic, which I’ve watched probably 100 times — Beyoncé’s “Upgrade U,” as choreographed by WilldaBeast:

Highly recommend watching this one when you’re overworked and need a boost / six-minute mental break.

Ok, don’t leave me hanging! Send me your vids.

Till next time,

Siobhan